My third album, Exposure follows the anguish of Let Go (2010) and the uncertainty of Sex, Love, Pain, Hope (2012) with a more confident and upbeat vibe. Exposure is about embracing the present, moving forward, and finding your own “home” in the world.
The writing dates back to April 2012, with the song “Extasy (The Fire in Your Heart)“. I had the beginnings of a new song, and I can remember working on it at the ASCAP Annual Songwriter’s Conference & Expo in Hollywood, California.
Having recently completed my second album, I was excited about attending this conference and being exposed to other musicians, songwriters, and people in the music industry. I had the opportunity to meet and network with up-and-coming artists, as well as famous musicians and producers such as Peter Frampton, Desmond Child, and Bruno Mars.
Hearing Dan Wilson speak about what it was like producing Adele’s album “21” and sitting about 15 feet away from him as he played “Closing Time” on acoustic guitar, the song that he wrote and that became an international hit with his band Semisonic in 1998, was amazing.
One thing that was surprising, and interesting, and funny at the same time was to hear from some of the biggest songwriters in the business, men and women in their 50’s, talking about and even performing the trendy pop songs that they wrote for the newest artists of the day.
The conference was completely inspiring. At the same time, I realized that I have a long way to go if I want to have a chance at being successful in the music industry. Everything I had done in my short music career of five years had been an accomplishment just to complete. I realized now that I would need to really focus my efforts as I continued to move forward.
On my vacation in the summer of 2012 I went to Venice Beach and Third Street in Santa Monica to street perform. I learned a lot by watching other street performers in my down time, and realized again that if I want to get recognized, I would need to develop an exceptional talent or skill that is unique to only me.
I wrote several more songs in 2012, and recorded a demo of a new song, “Heartbeat” in October of 2012. The production of this song was a big improvement on anything I had done before, and would serve as a template for the production of my next album.
By the end of the year, I decided to focus all of my efforts on singing. I downloaded about 40-50 backing tracks of songs that I knew how to sing. Many of these songs were challenging for me to sing and a little out of my range, but I was determined to improve.
By February of 2013, I had developed a couple of 25 song set-lists and I took my singing act out to the street, this time with just a microphone and a small speaker that would play the music backing tracks. I ended up earning about $300 in 6 weeks, which made me happy. It was great practice and I felt that for the most part, people were appreciative of my efforts and service to the public.
I got to a point where I wasn’t making any progress, so I decided to focus my efforts on writing new music. From May to June 2013, I locked myself up in my room after work and wrote the songs that would inspire my third album, “Exposure.” By July, I was back out on the street, this time with an acoustic guitar and headset microphone, testing out the new songs, “Home”, “Why?”, “Obsession” and “YLM”.
In early August I recorded”Why?”. “Why?” was the initial inspiration to do the album. It seemed to pick up where my second album (Sex, Love, Pain, Hope) had left off, but in a more productive direction. I then recorded “Obsession” and “YLM,”, experimenting with different sounds and techniques in the production, before leaving for a 3-week summer 2013 vacation.
I had the opportunity to sing “Let it Be“, the very first song that I learned on guitar in 2007, with the house band at my friend’s wedding in Poland in September of 2013. I also read several books about writing and producing music during my travels. I returned home with even more inspiration and right away began recording a new song called “I’ll be Alone”. “I’ll Be Alone” became a year-long project, eventually evolving into the centerpiece of the album, “I Wanna Rock ‘n Roll“.
After re-writing the chorus lyrics and melody, and transforming the song into “I Wanna Rock ‘n Roll”, I struggled because the song was then too high for me to properly sing, although not impossible. I went back out to the street almost daily, this time in a private area near a freeway, an area in which I could practice all kinds of singing exercises without bothering anybody. The practice paid off, but it was slow progress.
As the new year rolled around, I made it my goal to complete the album recordings by the end of January. As I took one final look into songs that I written and could consider for the album, I unexpectedly pulled out out two songs, “Downtown” and “Extasy (The Fire in Your Heart)“, songs that I had written in 2012 and forgotten about. Ironically, I really liked the guitar sound and vibe that was recorded on the first try, and I decided that these two songs could possibly be the strongest songs on the album.
I spent every extra minute that I had in January, locked in my room finishing up the recording of the remaining songs on the album. I wanted to have the best possible vocals that I could get, so I took my finished music tracks to Playback Recording Studio in early February and began to work on the vocals. It was 8 weeks before I had completed the lead and backing vocals, and another 3-4 weeks to get the right mixes. It was time consuming, and at times really frustrating, but completely worth it. The album is far from perfect, but at this point in my career so am I. I can say with confidence that I gave all of the elements my best effort and I have no regrets.
Exposure has a much more upbeat vibe than my first two albums. The album is about embracing the present, moving forward, being yourself, and finding your own “home” in the world.
- Downtown (written 8/20/12)
- Extasy (The Fire in Your Heart) (written 4/17/12)
- Obsession (written 11/26/12)
- Pink Dress (written 7/1/12)
- I Wanna Rock ‘n Roll (written 5/27/13)
- Why? (written 6/11/13)
- Home (written 6/5-6/13/2013)
- YLM (written 5/19/13)